Emily Seebohm joins Olympic golden boys to headline Vic States opening night
Olympic gold medallists Mack Horton, Gregorio Paltrinieri and Kyle Chalmers and reigning world champion Emily Seebohm will headline the opening night’s finals at the Victorian State Swimming Championships at the Melbourne Sports And Aquatic Centre tonight.
Rio 400 metres champion Horton v Italy’s 1500m champion Paltrinieri will kick start proceedings in an all-star 400m freestyle field which also includes Rio Olympians Daniel Smith, David McKeon and Jacob Hansford as well as Japanese star Ayatsugu Hirai.
Horton led the qualifiers from this morning’s heats in 3:52.16 ahead of Melbourne Vic Centre training partner, Paltrinieri (3:52.52) and Griffith University pair Smith (3:53.58) and McKeon (3:55.17) with Hirai sixth on 3:58.40.
Chalmers (Marion) was a comfortable winner of 11 of 12 heats of the blue riband 100m freestyle in 50.27 but it was fellow 19-year-old and St Peters Western’s Fina World Championship finalist Jack Cartwright who clocked the fastest qualifying time from heat 12 in 49.79 who caught the eye.
Cartwright, under coach Dean Boxall, was a close-up seventh in last year’s World Championship final in Budapest and has emerged as the “X-factor” in the countdown to next month’s Hancock Prospecting Australian Championships and Commonwealth Games Selection Trials at the Optus Aquatic Centre on the Gold Coast.
Throw in today’s third fastest qualifier and freestyle sprint heavyweights – two-time World Champion James Magnussen and World Championship silver medallist and reigning multiple Australian champion Cam McEvoy and the 100m freestyle will be a major drawcard at the February 28-March 3 Trials.
Australia’s Swimmer of the Year and 2017 World Champion Seebohm, has grabbed lane four for what will be a closely fought women’s 200m backstroke final – with a real Commonwealth Games feel about it.
The David Lush coached Seebohm (Brisbane Grammar) was a comfortable winner of the final heat in 2:12.53 with Canadian Olympic bronze medallist Hilary Caldwell winning the fourth heat in 2:13.69.
Fifth heat winner and third fastest qualifier was 16-year-old Queenslander Kaylee McKeown, the World Junior record holder who was fourth in last year’s World Championships in 2:14.07.
Then followed Melbourne Vicentre’s World University Games champion Sian Whittaker 2:15.24 and former World Junior Champion Minna Atherton (Brisbane Grammar) 2:15.46, rounding out a top flight top five.
In other events:
Multi-Olympic and World Championship medallist Emma McKeon (Griffith University) tops the qualifiers in the 50m butterfly (26.79) and the 100m freestyle (55.01) in both events ahead of two-time Olympic relay gold medallist Brittany Elmslie (Brisbane Grammar).
Paralympic star Daniel Fox (USC Spartans) heads the qualifiers in the Multi-Class 100m butterfly in 1:01.96.
Nunawading’s Jessica Hansen (1:08.45) leads the 100m breaststroke girls Taylor McKeown (USC Spartans) 1:08.83 and Georgia Bohl (Griffith University) 1:09.02 into the 100m breaststroke final.
And Rio Olympian Jake Packard (27.67) was only 0.10 outside his best time in the 50m breaststroke qualifying heats ahead of Korea’s Jaekwon Moon 27.88 and Matt Wilson (SOSC) 28.08.